Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
Now this is a national day of observance that I can go all in on! I’m thrilled BB let me know about the reason for the season having taken two days of morning naps in a row!
National Napping Day is observed annually the day following the return of daylight saving time. National Napping Day provides everyone with the opportunity to have a nap and catch up on the hour of sleep they lost due to the spring forward time change.
So, now that we’ve established a visual and emotional happy place, let’s move into the utter display of corruption and incompetence presented by Education Secretary “I’m mostly misunderstood” DeVos. Can any one be more clueless about a job than this woman other than KKKremlin Caligula himself? Leslie Stahl managed to ask her basic questions that left the Secretary flummoxed and stumbling on 60 Minutes.
The reason Betsy DeVos wanted to be secretary of education was so she could promote school choice, offering parents options other than traditional public schools – where 90 percent of kids go. She has proposed massive cuts in public education funding and wants to shift billions to alternative players like private, parochial and charter schools.
Betsy DeVos: We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level And we have seen zero results.
Lesley Stahl: But that really isn’t true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years. So why do you keep saying nothing’s been accomplished?
Betsy DeVos: Well actually, test scores vis-à-vis the rest of the world have not gone up. And we have continued to be middle of the pack at best. That’s just not acceptable.
Lesley Stahl: No it’s not acceptable. But it’s better than it was. That’s the point. You don’t acknowledge that things have gotten better. You won’t acknowledge that, over the–
Betsy DeVos: But I don’t think they have for too many kids. We’ve stagnated
Lesley Stahl: Okay, so there’s the big argument. So what can be done about that?
Betsy DeVos: What can be done about that is empowering parents to make the choices for their kids. Any family that has the economic means and the power to make choices is doing so for their children. Families that don’t have the power, that can’t decide: “I’m gonna move from this apartment in downtown whatever to the suburb where I think the school is gonna be better for my child” if they don’t have that choice – and they are assigned to that school, they are stuck there. I am fighting for the parents who don’t have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices.
Like most right wing extremist theocrats, DeVos isn’t interested in the truth about a train wreck in Michigan she helped create. Choice is a code word for publicly funded Christian Madrassas that are segregated by social class and race.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, former chair of Michigan’s Republican Party, appeared taken aback when asked during a 60 Minutes interview Sunday whether her home state’s school’s have become better under policies she pushed.
As chair of the American Federation for Children in Michigan, DeVos worked to expand chartered private schools in the state. Most of the reading and math scores among students at charter schools in Michigan are below average and overall academic progress lags behind other states.
“Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?” 60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl asked DeVos in the interview, pointing out that public schools also haven’t flourished under policies she championed.
“I don’t know. Overall—I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better,” DeVos replied.
Along with her husband Dick DeVos, a billionaire heir to the Amway fortune, DeVos has backed state bills in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Florida for voucher programs where students can get public funding to subsidize the cost of attending a private or religious school. She proposes expansion of that system and has pushed for it in Michigan for decades.
“Your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here,” Stahl said.
“I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them,” DeVos replied. She said she had “not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming” to find out what is going wrong.
DeVos will be heading up the Task Force on School Safety. Wonder if that means Blackwater units in every school? And what about those Grizzlies?
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will lead a commission tasked with broadly examining ways to protect schools from gun violence, the White House said Sunday.
Administration officials also said the White House would support arming school personnel who volunteer for the job, offering federal funds to provide “rigorous firearms training” to qualified employees.
The proposal has angered education groups, who have said arming educators could put both adults and students at risk. National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García last month said, “Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence.”
But DeVos, who has met with students, teachers and families in the wake of the deadly Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., said little progress had been made protecting students over the past several years. “No student, no family, no teacher and no school should have to live the horror of Parkland or Sandy Hook or Columbine again,” she said.
While not immediately committing to any ideas or timetables, DeVos said, “No stone will be left unturned” in the effort to uncover and highlight evidence-based approaches proven to reduce violence.
“We’ve had to talk about this topic way too much over the years,” DeVos told reporters during a conference call Sunday. “And there’s been a lot of talk in the past but very little action.”
Still not convinced she’s like one of the worst people in the world. Take her student loan storm trooper attitude and link it to this headline: ‘Education Department awards debt collection contract to company once tied to DeVos’.
A company that once had financial ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was one of two firms selected Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education to help the agency collect overdue student loans. The deal could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The decision to award contracts to Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp. – the company in which DeVos invested before becoming secretary – arrives a month after a federal judge ordered the department to complete its selection of a loan collector to put an end to a messy court battle. Windham and Performant beat out nearly 40 other bidders for contracts valued at up to $400 million, but their win may be short-lived if the losing companies fight the decision.
The selection of only two [companies] opens the door to protests from the unsuccessful bidders,” wrote Michael Tarkan, senior research analyst at Compass Point, in a research note on Performant. “Based on prior contract awards, we would not be surprised to see protests, lawsuits and appeals which could all delay the start date for the new contract.”
Historically, the department has used as many as 17 companies to recoup past-due student loans. Earlier attempts to whittle down the number of firmshave been met with resistance. Companies that lost out on a 2016 debt collection contract have been embroiled in a lawsuit that has prevented the federal government from assigning new accounts.
But, hey, she’s “conservative” so Twink DeVos should be all about state’s right! Am I right? Uhmmmmm, nope!
The Education Department issued guidance Friday informing state regulators to back off the companies managing its $1.3 trillion portfolio of student loans, arguing that only the federal government has the authority to oversee its contractors.
“State regulation of the servicing of direct loans impedes uniquely federal interests,” the department wrote. “State regulation of the servicing of the Federal Family Education Loan Program is preempted to the extent that it undermines uniform administration of the program.”
The notice arrives as states have stepped in to fill what many see as a void in the federal oversight of student loan servicers, the companies the Education Department pays nearly $1 billion to handle debt payments. The move has created consternation within the industry, which has lobbied Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Congress to prevent states from imposing additional rules and regulations. Now the department is taking action, but some legal experts say the declaration is a hollow gesture.
“Nowhere in this document does the Department of Education quote a statute from Congress that says the department is authorized to block states from stopping deceptive debt collection practices. That’s because such a law does not exist,” said Christopher Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah and former enforcement attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Many states are likely to view this document as legally dubious . . . and will wait for courts to weigh in with their own interpretation.”
California, Connecticut and the District of Columbia require servicers to obtain a license to operate within their borders as a way to bring the companies under their regulatory purview. Their local agencies have the authority to monitor loan servicers’ compliance with federal laws, investigate their behavior and refer cases to the attorney general.
And from that radical rag Forbes Magazine“4 Ways Betsy DeVos Plans To Make It Harder For Ripped-Off Students To Get Loan Forgiveness.” Trump University any one?
With thousands of “borrower defense to repayment” applications pending, Betsy DeVos wants to impose a higher burden of proof for defrauded students seeking student loan forgiveness.
Borrower defense offers federal student loan forgiveness for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges, including the now-closed Corinthian Colleges.
If this revision from the Department of Education goes through, students will face bigger hurdles along the path to borrower defense student loan forgiveness.
Although it’s unclear whether the proposal would affect existing applications, it would at least introduce four major challenges for future applicants.
Other headlines guaranteed to drive you back under the covers via Memeorandum:
John Bacon from USA Today: Death penalty for drug dealers? Count Trump in
Anita Kumar from McClatchy DC: Ivanka Trump never cut ties with the Trump Organization. That’s turned into a problem.
Jake Pearson from Associated Press: Trump Jr., donor have longtime undisclosed ties
Annie Gowen from The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton says ‘follow the money’ in the Trump-Putin relationship
And now, you can close your eyes and repeat after me: Let’s make America and America again!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Congress finally renewed highway funds and extended the lower student loan rate. This news comes via the HILL. This should save a few jobs and fill a few potholes. It also renews my Flood Insurance during the hurricane season!!!
Congress on Friday approved legislation that will extend federal highway programs through 2014, a low interest rate on student loans for one year, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years.
Leaders in the House and Senate negotiated the giant package, leaving no doubt that it would have enough support to pass. The bill will likely be the last major piece of legislation approved by Congress until after the November elections.
The House voted 373-52 in favor of the bill, which was supported by every voting Democrat, while 52 Republicans opposed it. In the Senate, the tally was 74-19, with 23 Republicans joining every Democrat in voting for the measure. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) voted present, while Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) missed the vote.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama looks forward to signing the bill.
Congress faced a weekend deadline for extending the highway and student loan provisions. The rates for federally backed student loans were set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, and transportation funding was due to expire.
See? They can work together ever so often.
Good Monday Morning! Not a day goes by without more examples of Republican stupidity. I’ve got several for you this morning. First up, Rick Perry had a talk with Donald Trump and now Governor Goodhair thinks President Obama’s birth certificate might be fake. That legend will never die. Think Progress:
In an interview with PARADE Magazine, Perry said that he recently met with Donald Trump and discussed the issue. Perry stated that he doesn’t “have a definitive answer” on whether Obama was born in the United States or “any idea” if Obama’s birth certificate is real….
Perry recently secured the endorsement of Orly Taitz, known as the “birther queen” for repeatedly filing lawsuits asserting that Obama was born outside the United States. Taitz told ThinkProgress that she believed Perry will use the birther issue to attack Obama.
Governor, do you believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States?
I have no reason to think otherwise.
That’s not a definitive, “Yes, I believe he”—
Well, I don’t have a definitive answer, because he’s never seen my birth certificate.
But you’ve seen his.
I don’t know. Have I?
You don’t believe what’s been released?
I don’t know. I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night.
That came up.
And he said?
He doesn’t think it’s real.
And you said?
I don’t have any idea. It doesn’t matter. He’s the President of the United States. He’s elected. It’s a distractive issue. “
“distractive?” Is that in the dictionary?
Herman Cain is still trying to walk back his accidentally pro-choice comments on abortion. From Politico:
Herman Cain tried to clean up the running confusion over his position on abortion last night, but in the meantime opened questions about his grasp of the Constitution.
In an interview with David Brody last night, Cain said he’d sign a pro-life constitutional amendment if it crossed his desk as president.
“Yes. Yes I feel that strongly about it. If we can get the necessary support and it comes to my desk I’ll sign it,” he said. “That’s all I can do. I will sign it.”
The only problem with that statement? Presidents don’t sign constitutional amendments — they’re passed in Congress and then need to be ratified by the states, and the president plays no formal role in the process.
Is this guy the most ignorant person to ever run for president? He’s worse than Michele Bachmann.
It appears Mitt Romney is about to do another flip flop: Romney, Once a Critic, Hedges on Flat-Tax Plans
As several leading Republican presidential candidates embrace a flat tax as a core campaign position, one contender stands out in not doing so: Mitt Romney, who has a long record of criticizing such plans and famously derided Steve Forbes’s 1996 proposal as a “tax cut for fat cats.”
Lately, though, his tone has been more positive. “I love a flat tax,” he said in August.
Flat-tax plans have come and gone before, and analysts note that they have tended to lose support once they come under scrutiny. But Mr. Romney’s support of the concept of a flat tax underscores the tightrope he is walking as taxes become a larger focus of the Republican presidential race and he faces rivals’ accusations of inconsistency on the issues.
But Ron Paul wins today’s prize for Republican stupidity. He wants to get rid of student loans.
Republican presidential contender Ron Paul said Sunday he wants to end federal student loans, calling it a failed program that has put students $1 trillion in debt when there are no jobs and when the quality of education has deteriorated.
Paul unveiled a plan last week to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget that would eliminate five Cabinet departments, including education. He’s also wants young workers to be able to opt out of Social Security.
The student loan program is not part of those cuts, but Paul said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he’d kill the loan program eventually if he were president. That could put him at odds with some of his young followers, many of whom are college students.
Turning to economic issues, the Financial Times has a scary article about the possible failure of the Euro.
It is time to prepare for the unthinkable: there is now a significant probability the euro will not survive in its current form. This is not because I am predicting the failure by European leaders to agree a deal. In fact, I believe they will. My concern is not about failure to agree, but the consequences of an agreement. I am writing this column before the results of Sunday’s European summit were known. It appeared that a final agreement would not be reached until Wednesday. Under consideration has been a leveraged European financial stability facility, perhaps accompanied by new instruments from the International Monetary Fund.
A leveraged EFSF is attractive to politicians for the same reason that subprime mortgages once appeared attractive to borrowers. Leverage can have different economic functions, but in these cases it simply disguises a lack of money. The idea is to turn the EFSF into a monoline insurer for sovereign bonds. It is worth recalling that the role of those monolines during the bubble was to insure toxic credit products. They ended up as a crisis amplifier.
To be honest, the article is a bit too technical for me to follow, but maybe Dakinikat can help me if she has sufficiently recovered from her nightmarish trip to Denver. Paul Krugman says Europe’s problem is (what else?) the stupidity of austerity.
First, the grim news from Greece is, as many commentators are pointing out, a big refutation for the doctrine of “expansionary austerity.” And it’s worth pointing out that European leaders, and especially the ECB, went in for that doctrine in a big way. Look at the June 2010 monthly report of the ECB (pdf), specifically the discussion of “fiscal consolidation” on page 83 and following. Basically, the ECB pooh-poohs any notion that austerity would have major negative effects on the economy, suggests that it’s quite likely that the confidence fairy will make everything OK, and specifically says that
Determined action on the part of governments to undertake fiscal and structural reforms is necessary to preserve stability and cohesion in the euro area. A sustained commitment to consolidation, possibly including a speeding up of current plans and their delivery, is required from all governments to ensure that the time afforded by the exceptional measures is used to put public finances on a permanently sounder footing.
So the ECB was calling for austerity everywhere. Was any concern expressed about how that would affect Europe-wide growth? Was there any suggestion of expansionary monetary policy to offset such a coordinated fiscal contraction? No and no.
And now they’re shocked, shocked that the Greek economy is plunging into a hole.
Maybe Ron Paul has a solution. LOL
Fannie posted this link last night, but I thought it should be on the front page: Republicans Turn Judicial Power Into a Campaign Issue
Republican presidential candidates are issuing biting and sustained attacks on the federal courts and the role they play in American life, reflecting and stoking skepticism among conservatives about the judiciary. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas favors term limits for Supreme Court justices. Representatives Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas say they would forbid the court from deciding cases concerning same-sex marriage. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania want to abolish the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, calling it a “rogue” court that is “consistently radical.”
Criticism of “activist judges” and of particular Supreme Court decisions has long been a staple of political campaigns. But the new attacks, coming from most of the Republican candidates, are raising broader questions about how the legal system might be reshaped if one of them is elected to the White House next year.
I’m going to end with this funny Halloween-themed satire from The New Yorker: Dear Mountain Room Parents, by Maria Semple. Here’s a bit of it, but please read the whole thing. You won’t be sorry.
The Mountain Room is gearing up for its Day of the Dead celebration on Friday. Please send in photos of loved ones for our altar. All parents are welcome to come by on Wednesday afternoon to help us make candles and decorate skulls.
Because I’ve gotten some questions about my last e-mail, there is nothing “wrong” with Halloween. The Day of the Dead is the Mexican version, a time of remembrance. Many of you chose Little Learners because of our emphasis on global awareness. Our celebration on Friday is an example of that. The skulls we’re decorating are sugar skulls. I should have made that more clear.
Some of you have expressed concern about your children celebrating a holiday with the word “dead” in it. I asked Eleanor’s mom, who’s a pediatrician, and here’s what she said: “Preschoolers tend to see death as temporary and reversible. Therefore, I see nothing traumatic about the Day of the Dead.” I hope this helps.
It gets funnier, so please go read the rest! Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
I laughed pretty loudly when I opened an email from the university to my faculty account explaining how wonderful the increased retention numbers were looking! Our new funding formula from extortionist governor Bobby Jindal depends on graduating and retaining students. I guess they don’t have economists in that section of administration. Just look at the unemployment rate for the typical student population (16-24 year olds) and the decreasing labor force participation rate from August, 2011. You’ll see exactly what’s going on. Got no job? Where do you go to find money and hopefully place yourself higher up on the meat market ladder if businesses ever go back to hiring?
The number of unemployed youth in July 2011 was 4.1 million, down from 4.4 million a year ago. The youth unemployment rate declined by 1.0 percentage point over the year to 18.1 percent in July 2011, after hitting a record high for July in 2010. Among major demographic groups, unemployment rates were lower than a year earlier for young men (18.3 percent) and Asians (15.3 percent), while jobless rates were little changed for young women (17.8 percent), whites (15.9 percent), blacks (31.0 percent), and Hispanics (20.1 percent).
So, we’ve got the biggest numbers of young people since the baby boom with parents whose employment situation is not great and whose assets and real incomes have taken a major hit over the last ten years. We’ve got kids that can’t even find the usual kid jobs. What are they going to do but go for those student loans and hang at university as long as possible? This brings me to the next big bubble phenomenon–Student Loans–plus the next GSE that’s going to be seeing default rates sky rocket. That would be Sallie Mae.
The $1 trillion of outstanding loans means that Americans now owe more on student loans than on their credit cards. While students have been racking up educational loans, American consumers have been paying down credit cards and home loans.
The average full-time undergraduate student borrowed $4,963 in 2010, up 63 percent from a decade earlier, even after adjusting for inflation, the report says.
Meanwhile, with a greater loan burden, the percentage of borrowers that defaulted on their student debts also rose – from 6.7 percent in 2007 to 8.8 percent in 2009.
That gives a lot of credence to the argument that the next big bubble will be in student loans. Here’s an investor’s view point from seeking alpha from back in July. Should we all start hedge funds and short student loans? Well, for one thing. You can short sell for profit university’s stocks who thrive on churning loans and assume Sallie Mae will be a goner just like its buddies Fannie and Freddie. Dump their bonds and short them!
With the current state of the job market, many if not most of these unfortunate borrowers will not be able to pay off their debt with a lower than expected income. This trend is showing itself through increasing default rates of student loans. Three-year default rates have risen from 11.8% for loans issued in 2007 to 13.8% issued in 2008 (most recent data available). Meanwhile, the fundamental factors driving these defaults have not changed since.
Historically, investors have not worried about the default of these securities because of their explicit government guarantees through FFELP. In addition to this, student loans are the only debt that cannot be forgiven through bankruptcy. Student loan collectors have gone to the extent of garnishing wages and racking up penalties that can double the borrower’s debt in the name of “forgiveness” to maintain a return for bondholders.
This story sounds similar to housing: If the borrowers fail to pay, lenders seize the asset (house for a mortgage, garnished wages for student loans). The story will end the same way, as students lack the income to maintain their living expenses plus the debt or even just the interest payments if they are unemployed. The other option that students will begin to take more is moving abroad to avoid collectors. Financial distress will make it practical to exile oneself to avoid a lifetime of debt slavery. The combination of lower incomes for college grads and expatriation will increase the default rate to even high levels than current record rates.
So how do investors go about shorting the bubble in higher education? Ideally, the best way would be to buy credit default swaps on student loan asset-backed securities, which have a similar construction to the mortgage-backed securities that caused the last financial crisis. However, this strategy is not available to most readers. Average investors are better off short-selling the leading providers of student loans or for-profit universities, which have some of the highest default rates of student loans for any academic institution.
The leading student loan provider in the United States in the Sallie Mae corporation (SLM). It was launched as a government-sponsored enterprise (since privatized) similar to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; it currently services and manages $180.4 billion of government-backed student loan debt. It’s also begun to issue private student loans as well. With a debt to equity ratio of 36, Sallie Mae is already on the edge of insolvency. A small drop in collections can amount to significantly levered losses to the company. If the student loan default rate increases to 20%, Sallie Mae will most likely not be able to survive. The continuing upward trend of student loan defaults will lead to either insolvency of Sallie Mae or a government takeover — which will both wipe out shareholders.
Above the Law even asked if there was any one out there left that even believed that this wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen. How’s this for harsh?
The problem is that our colleges and universities are charging a $100,000 to pump out the next generation of dog walkers. Sure, part of the fault lies with the people themselves; parents who let their 18-year-old children borrow a ton of money to go to an expensive private university to major in art history are no better than strung out crack mothers.
But the dean who sits there and says, “come study comparative literary criticism for the low, low price of $40,000 per year,” is the price-gouging drug dealer. These deans are pushing a product at a price point that they know is dangerous for most of their consumers.
This is what worries me. This is also from Above the Law and it mentions just how married you and yours going to be to that student loan. Not only that, but graduate students will have a much bigger balances to pay in the future thanks to an Obama sell-out on the deficit. Talk about setting people up for loan failure. Why not just pump the least able to pay for more money?
In the total debt ceiling cave-in that will mark Barack Obama as the most successful Republican president since Ronald Reagan, there was one cut that really illustrates how little the president cares for his young, college-educated constituents. To save about $26.3 billion dollars, the debt ceiling deal eliminates the graduate student loan subsidy. That means that law students (and other grad students) will continue accruing interest on their non-dischargeable educational loans throughout their graduate studies.
I can see why they call education the “silver bullet,” because education certainly seems like a surefire way to kill one’s economic future….
The graduate loan cut wasn’t the most ridiculous so-called compromise Obama made while John Boehner was pumping him like Richie Aprile did to Janice Soprano. But it is illustrative of the extent to which Obama has abandoned the young people who helped elect him so that he can court… well, I don’t know exactly what universe he lives in where he thinks a black Republican running as a pro-war Democrat wins a general election
Meanwhile back on the Planet of anecdotal evidence, we get these examples. Ask me about Doctor Daughter’s student loan debt or mine, for that matter. I got two degrees in the late 70’s and early 80s by working and that was it. I just couldn’t swing it this time. I now have student loan debt that would’ve bought me a Mercedes and I’m jobless and on the jobfree labor market. Sallie Mae’s like a loan shark too. They’re worse to deal with than the bookies in my neighborhood.
“I have ~$75k in student loans. I will default soon. My cosigner, my father, will be forced to take my loans. He will default as well. I’ve ruined my family because I tried to rise above my class,” writes one testimonial on the 99 percent website on Wednesday.
The 99 percent website is one of the places where the Occupy Wall Street movement first got its inspiration from.
“I am a young medical professional who BARELY makes it paycheck-to-paycheck because I have OVER $200,000.00 in student loan debt,” says another testimonial on the website Tuesday. “I pay almost $1,000 a month just in student loan repayment. I will have to do so for the next 30-years. How will I ever afford to buy a house, have children, or save for the future?”